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Innovation Center Initiative Uses Service-Learning to Address Diabetes, Violence, and Environmental Issues
INNOVATION CENTER INITIATIVE USES SERVICE-LEARNING TO ADDRESS DIABETES, VIOLENCE, AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
– Innovation Center Approved for Corporation for National and Community Service Grant –
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Takoma Park, MD, July 30, 2009 – The Innovation Center for Community & Youth Development’s application for a Learn and Serve America Community-Based Programs FY 2009 (NEW) grant has been approved by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Innovation Center will link service learning to leadership development and civic activism in three communities, addressing community health issues of diabetes, violence, and environmental protection. Through specialized training, online learning networks, and cross-site meetings, the Innovation Center will strengthen and expand communities’ work in these areas.
The Innovation Center will build the capacity of three community-based organizations – Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA) in Sells, AZ, the Youth Development Training and Resource Center (YDTRC) in New Haven, CT, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA. All three sites plan to use service-learning to address long standing challenges in their community.
The Innovation Center reinterprets community service with a civic action focus for a new generation. Part program development partner, part consulting firm and part incubator for emerging ideas, the Innovation Center offers consulting, training, and customized tools to guide organizations and communities to build a healthy and sustainable future.
“Young people sincerely want to ensure that their hometowns are healthy places, but that is a challenge in so many communities,” Innovation Center President Wendy Wheeler said. “Strategies that bring young people together in service learning, leadership development, and civic engagement unleash a sometimes-hidden power of young people and their communities to create healthy futures.”
More than 60% of all Tohono O’odham adults have adult-onset diabetes, the highest rate in the world. To encourage the healthy eating habits and active lifestyle that prevents type II diabetes, TOCA youth are reviving traditional Tohono O’odham food sources and games. They will plant community gardens, revitalize traditional farming methods, organize sports leagues for traditional athletics, and coordinate hiking trips to collect native plants. This work will not only tackle the community’s health concerns, but revitalize a culture once on the verge of extinction.
Crime statistics show that New Haven’s crime rate is on the rise, while at the same time the number of out-of-school opportunities for youth is decreasing. This grant will enable New Haven young people to take action on these issues in their community. As members of youth action teams, young people will design and lead community service projects to prevent crime and violence.
The city of Watsonville, CA, nearby the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has a strong environmental ethic, but few people know how to restore or maintain the area’s unique ecosystems. With the assistance of the Innovation Center, the Aquarium will partner with other community organizations to sponsor “drop-in” community-based service projects and to mentor youth as they design and carry out their own service projects. With these projects, young people will link their science education to community environmental issues.
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About the Innovation Center
The Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development connects thinkers and leaders of all ages to develop fresh ideas, forge new partnerships, and design strategies that engage young people and their communities. Our work leads to new practices that strengthen community and youth development and promote social change.
For more information about TOCA, visit http://www.tocaonline.org/.